Games take a long time to make. Some take more time than others, but few have been in active development as long as Overgrowth. I first found out about this game six years ago, when it had already had several years development time, and it’s hard to say how much has obviously changed - I barely remember what I had for breakfast this morning, let alone a barebones fighting game from six years ago!
Overgrowth is anything but barebones these days. With three campaigns, four arenas with endless fighting and a never-ending supply of maps from the Steam Community, there is plenty to do in Overgrowth. The campaigns are quite short, each lasting about two hours but their brevity comes with the distinct knowledge that this is just a framework for the brutal combat system to live in.
Few games I’ve played have paid as much attention to the biology of its characters. Each and every character has a fully realised skeleton, and will take damage to those areas. In theory, I’m pretty sure you could break someone’s arm if the precision was there. Overgrowth forgets such pleasantries and usually displays this system when an enemy is knocked to the floor with the full force of a six foot anthropomorphised rabbit’s kick onto its neck, snapping it immediately. Fights in this game tend to not last more than a few seconds, even against the larger and meatier opponents.
There is something incredibly satisfying about the sheer brutality of the game; from very early on the enemies will knock you around as much as you hit them and it took me awhile to get into the game’s rhythm. Once I was there, and the muscle memory for blocking, dodging and hitting had developed, I became an action movie martial artist. I was practically untouchable even against unfair opponents, with their weapons and increased durability no match for the jump kick I spammed whenever I had the distance.
Overgrowth shows little subtlety with its fighting, with everything coming down to four buttons: attack, block, roll and jump. You either hit or be hit, and the game determines on the fly how best to actually attack. This could sound rather simplistic and promote “button mashing” but - as I said before - the fights are quick, visceral and animalistic. There is no way to just survive an assault, and you’ll need to learn the game’s speed and timing to properly block and dodge enemies attacks and get in clean hits of your own - all in just a few seconds.
Technically, the game looks incredible although a few of the levels are rather sparsely decorated. Coupled with the extreme loading times for very short levels, this can be quite immersion breaking. I attempted to run to the edge of one of the maps, one where the focus was on a very small area, and didn’t even see an end to the world. I think that they’re just too big, and on my system it caused loading times of upwards of 30 seconds. That said, once you’re in the levels there are no loading times at all, and the maps instantly reset upon death.
I found the camera often quite difficult to work with, especially when fighting multiple opponents at once. Since there is no lock-on you attack in the direction you’re facing, but the camera will swing around wildly in combat and I often found myself throwing punches at thin air early on. After a while I learnt to compensate for the camera, but it could still have been better considering Overgrowth is at its best when fighting multiple enemies.
I know that there is a local multiplayer option, but I haven’t had a chance to try it out. Judging from the Steam forums and a Reddit AMA there are plans to introduce online multiplayer, with the developers Wolfire Games suggesting that Overgrowth’s combat system is “lag-tolerant”. If they do go forward with their multiplayer plans, I feel they need to address the lack of camera lock for enemies because as it is now I think it would be very difficult to have competitive matches with even two players, let alone any more.
Overgrowth is a distinctly satisfying game to play, and it knew what it was good at and stuck with it. The stories are short and uncomplicated, but they provide distinct and varied environments to fight in with enough reason to keep you invested. The game’s camera and loading times are the only two let downs for me, but the sheer visceral brutality carries the game past those two problems.
Overgrowth (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
A visceral, brutal fighting game with no subtlety and no ambition for it. Long loading times and a poor camera don’t detract massively from the animalistic fun Overgrowth provides.